Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
William James's treatment of G. W. F. Hegel is often vitriolic and hostile. James advanced arguments against virtually every aspect of Hegelian philosophy. Despite the widespread grievances James found in Hegel's work, there are a growing number of philosophers who argue that James was in actuality a latent Hegelian himself. On the other side of this debate are those who believe that James provided a final and devastating critique from which Hegel could never escape. This thesis considers both positions and renders a number of historical judgements regarding the relationship between James and Hegel. First, one ought not. to consider James a Hegelian. Any attempt to construe James as one must severely distort James's work. Second, despite the volume of arguments against Hegel James provides, the strongest argument is that of vicious abstractionism. Lastly, while vicious abstractionism may provide the basis for a strong argument against Hegel, it cannot be taken as a decisive victory over him. This is because James saw his brand of pragmatism as a mediator between different philosophies present in the philosophical discourse, a conversation from which Hegelian philosophy had all but removed itself in James's time. The concept of vicious abstractionism represents James's attempt to bring Hegelian philosophy back into the discourse through exposing an underlying flaw in its psychology. Aside from providing a resolution to the debate surrounding James's supposed Hegelian leanings, this thesis demonstrates how current pragmatists can enjoy a cautious rather than hostile relationship with Hegel.
Bromhall, Kyle M., "Does He Protest Too Much? James's Relationship with Hegel" (2008). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 5613.
McMaster University Library